Age as a Factor in Australid Mentality

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The article reviews briefly work done previously in the Central and Kimberley regions of the Australian interior. Investigations since 1962 had the initial purpose of comparing recent data with those obtained in 1929 and the secondary aim of attempting to demonstrate the effect of age on Maze performance. Difficulties met with in carrying out this program are outlined. What evidence is available indicates a comparative early decline in the mean scores, beginning in the age decade 41 to 50 yr. This was apparent in the work reported by Porteus and Gregor in 1963, by Porteus and David in 1966, and in the present study. These investigations agree in showing that the tempo of the deficiency increases in the next decade (51 to 60 yr. of age), followed by a drastic loss in still older Ss. It appears that among Australids resistance to the inroads of advancing age is less than among more civilized peoples and that this may be an important factor in the matter of inventiveness and technological advance. If these trends are confirmed by further studies, a most significant racial difference will have been uncovered, one that should be of great importance in any program of cultural development. The incidence of trachoma, the most prevalent Australid eye disease, has been demonstrated by Elphinstone and Mann in desert and semi-arid regions. Its possible effect on Maze performance is discussed.

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